Review by C.J. Bunce
Thirteen–a moody and creepy new suspense mystery series is now airing on BBC America. It’s become a strangely familiar, recurring trope among the modern mystery tale–especially among British television: The lost girl, and more to the point, the lost girl found. Think The Revenants (and the English version The Returned) but without the supernatural. But flip the gender of the victim and it’s another take on the Starz Brit import The Missing, BBC’s less than stellar Broadchurch, or BBC’s brilliant Marchlands.
Like Elizabeth Smart, Johnny Gosch (and all of those missing milk carton kids of the 1980s), Ivy Moxam (played hauntingly by Jodie Comer) was snatched from her neighborhood at age 13. She now finds herself walking out of the house she has been held hostage in, 13 years later at age 26. In her own neighborhood all these years. And the detective story begins as we meet Ivy and sympathize with her struggle to return to a world outside the walls of her captivity, an enormous gap of time lost. In episode one she tries–and fails–to take up life where she left off, calling her old boyfriend (now married thirteen years later) and doing anything to avoid what has happened to her. The series, which already aired in the UK, is only five episodes, so we learn the kidnapper midway through episode one and a manhunt begins.
Because of the serious nature of the subject matter these series are usually gut-wrenching. The closer you get to the truth, the closer the stories seem to mirror real-life crime horrors.
Thirteen is gritty and edgy and all the stuff drama fans are after, due entirely to the multiple, haunting feelings actress Jodie Comer is able to portray convincingly. You’ll find plenty of angst, too, with parents that always say the wrong thing, a sister that always does the wrong thing, one seemingly uncaring female investigator and a male investigator getting too close. Don’t these characters ever watch TV?
Only one episode down and Thirteen has all the hallmarks of an addictive short series. The direction and cinematography are thoughtfully carried out, and may remind you of the work in USA network’s Mr. ROBOT. Catch it over the next four Thursday nights at 9 p.m. Central on BBC America.